Former Athlone Town goalie wins appeal against match fixing charges

Former Athlone Town goalkeeper Igors Labuts has won his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against charges of match-fixing imposed by the FAI.

Labuts (pictured above) was found to be in breach of FAI rules by an independent disciplinary committee on September 7, 2017.

The Latvian was subsequently banned from all football-related activities for 12 months.

An investigation was launched after suspicious betting patterns were noticed regarding a League of Ireland First Division game between Athlone Town and Longford Town on April 29, 2017.

Labuts played in that game, which Athlone lost 3-1, and the FAI charged him with breaching rules relating to bringing the game into disrepute, manipulating matches, and betting/gambling.

He appealed the decision to an independent disciplinary appeal committee, which upheld the original decision.

A further appeal was made to an Independent Arbitrator, but it also found in the FAI's favour.

Labuts maintained his innocence and eventually took his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, where he has now won his appeal.

With Labuts having already served his ban, it is now expected that he will launch proceedings to obtain compensation.

Athlone Town AFC is expected to release a statement on the matter in the coming days.

The former Athlone Town goalkeeper was represented in the CAS proceedings by by PFAI solicitor Stuart Gilhooly; Stephen McGuinness and Ollie Cahill, secretary and player executive of the PFAI respectively; and barristers Patrick Marron and Paul McGarry.

A hearing took place in Lausanne where a three-person CAS panel listened to submissions of evidence from both sides. The panel also reviewed video footage of goals conceded by Labuts in the relevant game.

The CAS panel ruled that they were not satisfied the evidence presented proved Labuts was involved in manipulating the result, although it did hold the view that the result of the game was manipulated.

CAS upheld Labuts’ appeal and set aside the sanction imposed by the FAI in November 2018.

The FAI has also been ordered to pay 3,000 Swiss francs to contribute to Labuts’ legal costs.

“From the point of view of the player and the PFAI, this is a vindication after nearly three years of fighting and three defeats at FAI level,” solicitor Stuart Gilhooly is quoted as saying on website.